João Rocha, Looking at a Radish, from the book Kim Jong Il Looking at Things, 2012
When the French filmmaker Marie Voignier visited North Korea, she discovered that the government-run tours all but lead visitors by the hand to important national sites, where guides force them to absorb verbal propaganda. In International Tourism
, her video project based on her tour now showing in "North Korean Perspectives," a new exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Voignier eliminated sound to silence what could be construed as lies. With title cards inserted into the video, she translates only the facts from the guides while filtering out embellishments.
Just as International Tourism
attempts to distill Voignier's experience in North Korea, the goal of the exhibition as a whole is to imagine what truly lies behind the country's borders. The works on display represent a diverse group of nationalities, time periods, and mediums. "I aimed to show the idea of North Korea through photography," says MOCP guest curator Marc Prüst. "How photography can be used, misused, changed, and how all those visions together can perhaps bring a bit more clarity into the closed reality that North Korea is."
These different perspectives include 3-D portraits of ordinary North Korean citizens by Matjaž Tančič, images of a South Korean war museum depicting the country's relationship to its northern neighbor by Noh Suntag, and works by Alice Wielinga that juxtapose propaganda paintings with images she secretly snapped while traveling through the country.
Ari Hatsuzawa, Outdoor Pool in Pyongyang
Prüst doesn't aim to present one reality of living in North Korea, but rather to have visitors absorb the variety of visions of the country provided by the artists and decide for themselves where the truth may lie, "whatever 'the truth' might be."
"North Korean Perspectives" runs through 10/4 at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, 600 S. Michigan, 312-663-5554, mocp.org. Free.